Chemical Element: palladium

(Modern Latin: from Greek, named in honor of the asteroid Pallas, which was discovered at about the same time; and for Pallas, the Greek goddess of wisdom; metal)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Pd
Atomic number: 46
Year discovered: 1803

Discovered by: William Hyde Wollaston (1766-1828), a British chemist.

  • William Hyde Wollaston discovered palladium in 1803-4 in crude platinum ore from South America.
  • He dissolved the ore in aqua regia (a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids), neutralized the acid with sodium hydroxide, and precipitated the platinum by treatment with ammonium chloride, as ammonium chloroplatinate.
  • Palladium was then removed as palladium cyanide by treatment with mercuric cyanide. The metal was produced from this cyanide by heating.
  • As a metal, palladium is ductile and easily worked.
  • It is not tarnished by the atmosphere at ordinary temperatures; consequently, the metal and its alloys serve as substitutes for platinum in jewelry and in electrical contacts, and the beaten leaf is used for decorative purposes.
  • Palladium is useful for the preparation of dental alloys.
  • Since it is much lighter than platinum, palladium has been used for the construction of astronomical and other fine instruments.
  • Relatively small amounts of paladium alloyed with gold yield “white gold”.

Name in other languages:

French: palladium

German: Palladium

Italian: palladio

Spanish: paladio

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.